Teamwork refers to a situation where human society combines efforts and thoughts through shared goals to enhance the quality of the activities they are undertaking. There are many challenges that face teamwork and it is necessary to be open-minded and flexible in order to accommodate the opinions of every member and ensure the effectiveness of the task to be undertaken. Individuals possess unique and powerful abilities, which should be wisely utilized in teamwork to improve the quality and effectiveness of the task in place (West, 2004, pg 1; Heathfield, 2010).
Our team consisted of four members and we were tackling the topic of leadership and teamwork effectiveness, which gave us suitable insight even in the operation of teamwork. The group was formed through careful consideration to avoid many challenges in the future through the help of our tutor. We never had a team leader, which was challenging since no one was committed to the smooth running of the group and we used to communicate through emails.
About the Course Work
Our team was to prepare a report and a presentation concerning leadership and teamwork effectiveness at the end of our course work. We decided to carry out a case study concerning two leaders, one who was successful, and another one who was not successful in his field of work. The former was his highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum the Ruler of Dubai, the Prime Minister, and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, while the latter was Jeffery Skilling a consultant at McKinsey & Company in the energy and chemical consulting practices.
Every member of the group was supposed to research and come up with a general overview of the topic which we met, scrutinized, and combined to make an exclusive introduction. Member one and two were to deal with the case of his highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum while members three and four were to look at the case of Jeffery Skilling. As a team, we decided that though everyone was to concentrate more on the area assigned, we were all free to contribute freely in all aspects of the assignment in order to have quality work at the end.
Stages of team development
Team development consists of five basic stages, which comprise of Forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning (Lee, 2010. Hellriegel & Slocum 2007)
Stage one: This stage is known as the forming or the searching stage whereby a strong foundation is an important right from the beginning (Maddux & Wingfield, 2003, pg 17). This takes place at the beginning of teamwork when members meet and are used neither to each other nor to the kind of the task ahead of them. In most cases, individual members may have mixed feelings whereby they are not convinced of the need for teamwork and maybe feeling like the job can better be accomplished at an individual level. At this stage, member projects on the team opportunities and challenges, divide the task among them, and come up with rules and regulations for the team.
When we started working on our project, this was the most challenging stage since each member had his own opinion on how to go about the project though most of us were not confident enough to speak our mind. However, our institution had organized teamwork training which equipped us on the way to carry out our activities as a team. I observed that most of the team members were confused and uncertain at some point in what was expected of them but they would still act securely. We were all very polite at the beginning and everyone was trying to look at the overall benefit of the project versus cost.
Stage 2: This is known as the storming stage. Members are now familiar with the mission and vision of the team and are now used to each other such that they can freely express their views. This stage is characterized by low trust among the team members, conflict over leadership roles, and work behaviors. The open argument among the members may be common and some members may tend to withdraw or isolate themselves (Abudi, 2010).
As we were carrying out our project, we had difficulties tolerating each other. Member 3 and 4 used to disagree a lot on the findings of their research and at some point member, three withdrew. Members had still not committed fully to the assignment and some had left the work entirely to their partners. There was a problem settling our disputes since we had no team leader but when things got out of hand, we would involve our supervisor.
Stage 3: This stage is known as the norming stage whereby team members have now committed fully to the operations of the team and work towards accomplishing their set goal. A lot of mutual understanding and cooperation among team members characterizes it and members are very keen to follow the teams set rules.
During this stage, member 3 resumed where they cooperated very well with her partner and were able to present a very extensive report concerning Jeffery Skilling. We would meet regularly to evaluate the progress of the assignment and members would respond very effectively. Members would lead the group in turns and we would communicate through emails. We were able to realize and analyze the challenges we were facing and members gave their opinions openly and freely. Due to the ineffectiveness, we had during the norming and the storming stage, we decided to work harder in order to complete the task on time.
Stage 4: This stage is known as the performing stage. Members of the team display their ability to achieve results effectively and efficiently through teamwork. If the team was found on poor leadership or un composed decision, the results may not be effective. There is a lot of interdependence during this stage and the team members are self-directing giving the leaders an easy time (Abudi, 2010; Avary, 2001).
According to the way we had divided our tasks, each group had done enough research on their field and it was time to come together and cross-check on each other’s work. We had worked hard in the beginning to accommodate each other’s weaknesses and this helped us to come up with a very good and extensively researched report. We were able to combine effort and sharpen the remaining issues together as a group and we finally presented a very good report.
Stage 5: This is the adjourning stage whereby the teamwork has been accomplished and its time for presentation and dissolving. There are celebrations over the achievements of the team and a moment of mourning as the team is dissolved. The team leader should take this chance to acknowledge the efforts of the members as he asks for opinions on how to improve teamwork in the future.
After we were through with the assignment, we picked member one to do the major presentation since we had realized the potential in him during teamwork, and we would support his arguments. The presentation was beautiful as our assessors commented and we were happy that the efforts we invested never went to waste. We later met to celebrate our achievement and give opinions on how the process was and recommendations for a future similar task.
Aspects of effective teamwork
The following are some of the aspects that enabled us to carry out an effective teamwork project (Constructing Excellence, 2010).
For teamwork to be effective, members must focus on the welfare of the group by owning and carrying out activities through joint task responsibilities. Though tasks may be divided, the member should be willing to help each other until the end of the assignment. They should not focus on personal gain alone but on the overall success of the project. During our assignment, we were able to own the project such that it would have affected everyone if it did not succeed. Though we had issues in the forming and storming stages, we were able to solve our differences and in the end, we came out very successfully.
Right from the beginning, we came up with the vision, the mission, and the objective of the group as a team, which was well debated among the group members whereby we settled on what every member of the group was contented in. We used to meet regularly to review our objectives and by the end of the project, no one had a complaint. It is always recommendable to have a shared vision since when members work towards their own objectives; teamwork may not be as effective.
This is a key area for any teamwork to be effective. Some of the areas that hinder free communication are when members are protective of the information they may be having and share it only when need be. During our team project, we had created an environment whereby members used to communicate freely such that whenever a member had something useful, he would hesitate to email the rest of the group. This challenged members to be active and the information gathered helped us so much in flavoring our presentation. The use of online communication was at times challenging since some members never had regular access to the internet.
Collaboration and participation
From the definition of teamwork, independence does not count a lot; rather, interdependence is the key to successful teamwork. The members of the team should collaborate in every aspect and participate fully in the assignment thus bringing ideas together in order to produce some quality work. At the beginning of our project, some members had left the work to just a few but with time, we ensured that everyone participated fully thus easing the workload (Maggin, 1994, pg 32; Avery, 2001, pg 83).
Issue negotiation and resolution
In every group of people working together, people always tend to collide due to differences in opinions, and in such cases, the team leader should be very careful on how to handle the matter. We had a challenge in this area since we did not have a team leader but we tried to solve our differences as a group (Maddux & Wingfield, 2003, pg 56).
Though we were very keen on the success of the group, we had failed terribly in the beginning since members never trusted each other and the burden had been left to just a few people. There was a communication breakdown since; some members could not share their views freely whereas others never had confidence in what they knew. Most members were focusing on their personal benefit rather than the success of the group whereas others could not recognize the importance of teamwork. The most challenging area was that of leadership since no one had authority over the other because we did not choose a team leader from the beginning. We were able to curb these challenges with time but the role of a team leader always lacked in our group.
How could the group’s performance have been improved?
One area we did not put enough emphasis and time on was that of teambuilding. This is a key area, which could have helped us minimize the challenges we went through during our teamwork. For instance, it would have helped us to establish team purpose, understand the stages of team development in advance, enhance communication, and understand team leadership among others (Torres & Fairbanks, 1996). We would also have improved our group performance through adequate prior training to equip the members with the necessary tips. Better commitment from members would also have been key to better performance.
Teamwork proved a better method to carry out such courses as leadership and teamwork effectiveness. This is because it had a direct impact on our daily lives and on our course of study. Though faced with a few challenges, its results were much more diversified than for individual work.
I would recommend proper prior preparation through training and team building for any team before they begin their teamwork. Members should be open-minded and ready to share information collaboratively. There should always be a team leader and online communication should only be applied when there is enough technology and machinery.
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